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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

this is my first tank and I never had any experience keeping planted tanks so I’m a little lost to what I should do or if there is a need to do anything at the moment.
I just tested my water and I realised my ammonia is at 0.25 and my nitrite is around 0.25 as well. I noticed my nitrate was a little high as well but my test was not sensitive enough to detect any noticeable changes.

I trimmed my plants and took a lot of my over grown floaters (Sylvania and a bit of mosquito fern) today. I’m thinking the problem was caused by me pulling out my micro swords that was stunted and planting ambulia in the empty spot. I noticed a lot of brown bits as I pulled the micro swords out and I believe they were all just decaying matter since I didn’t plant them deep so pretty sure they were not soil, but when I planted the ambulia I went a little keep and I might’ve pushed the stem right to the soil layer.

now I’m stressing our since I have shrimps in the tank and I’m afraid they might die on me since they are very fragile (One is also carrying eggs and I really hope they can hatch safely). I tried testing the water around the ambulia and it seems to me the ammonia levels are a tiny bit higher (might be me over thinking due to the stress). It’s been 5 hours since I planted them so I’m not sure if I should pull them out a little so they don’t touch the soil layer or if it’ll be to keep them as it is.

parameters:
tank age: 2 months
ph: 7.4 - 7.8
ammonia: 0.25ppm
nitrate: >0 but undetectable by my test kit
nitrite: around 0.25
gh: 7
kh:6
life stock: 2 corydora and around 15 shrimps
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I should add that both my soil and gravel substrate is 1 inch thick and I attached a photo of the tank
73729
 

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I would relax. The setup and plants look good. A temporary high ammonia and nitrite is not as bad as some people say and you never know how accurate these test kits are. Just encourage plant growth and don't prune plants too much. Use fish and shrimp behavior/reproduction to gauge your tank's health, not test kits and dire warnings from the naysayers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hello everyone!

Thank you everyone for the comforting and relaxing comments! I feel like I’m on the right track again.
I did do I water change in the end (20%) and now I will be stressing whether I placed the shrimps in shock or not 🤣🤣.
There are just so many voices on the internet that voice ammonia and nitrite in the tank as a dangerous poison that’ll kill your fish and that really puts you off from rational thinking. I’m grateful that I have everyone on this forum to keep me on track as well as giving valuable information.
I will observe my tank and see how the life stock is going.
 

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NO2 and NH3 might be toxic, but the toxicity depends on many variables, one of which is temperature, apart from pH. But above all, is your hornwort (ceratophyllum demersum) growing? How about the Salvinia? If yes, then bye bye ammonia!

PS: good looking tank indeed!
PPS: Mark (youtuber shrimp breeder) suggests a waterchange of 10-15% is best for shrimp, so your 20% is probably perfectly fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi Zahtar,
Thank you for the complement! I didn’t expect my tank to get to many praises!
I recently trimmed a lot of mine Sylvania and Hornwort but they definitely grow like crazy.
i have my heater set at 27 degrees but the overall water temperature is around 24. My ammonia has definitely gone down but my nitrite seemed to have gone up which is to be expected But still around 0.25 range.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
View attachment 73747
This is from @Deanna on TPT.

A small amount of Ammonia is good for the plants. I wonder why you don't have Nitrate?
Thank you for the graph!
The lack of nitrate might be due to the plants I have in the tank. If ammonia is mostly taken up by the plants then there will be little nitrate in solution. Plants also take up nitrate and that might be the reason why I have barely any nitrate.
 

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Nitrites and nitrates are byproducts of the nitrogen cycle. So depending on your fast grower's preference on uptake, I guess some might be detectable when measured, some might not. In general I don't expect every measurement to be zero, the toxic stuff is below the lower value, so since plants grow and fish are happy, I guess all is fine :)

Στάλθηκε από το Nokia 5.4 μου χρησιμοποιώντας Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hello everyone!
I have been monitoring my ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels daily. The ammonia is now undetectable for a few days now. But nitrite is still around 0.25. I have added Sera aquarium conditioner and it was able to lower nitrite to undetectable, but over 2 days, the nitrite levels have creeped back up to 0.25. My nitrate fluctuated in the same way as nitrite but the levels were low enough to not have changed the test colour significantly.

From my understanding, aquarium conditioner bind nitrite to a harmless complex that renders it nontoxic to the livestock while still making it available to the plants. However, it’s confusing as to why the levels never dropped given my ammonia have dropped down to undetectable.
Ms Walstad mentioned in her book that there is preferential absorption for nitrite compare to nitrate but I don’t see any major changes. I have restarted daily water changes (10% give or take). I was wondering if I am just too impatient with my plants and that giving them a little more time should help.

The 2 corydora don’t seems to be too bothered, but I did notice them swimming towards the top more often on days where nitrite is 0.25. I am more worried for my shrimps. I noticed them being more active today when I came back from work. They aren’t usually this active at this time of the night but I may just be my mistake and worrying too much.

I am probably over worrying but should I keep up with water conditioner or should I wait it out. And is the water conditioner a good idea?

my tank still have the same parameters
pH: 7.4-7.8
temperature: 24 degrees
 

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TBH. I've all but ceased testing for nitrites; my understanding is that they are a transitional nutrient that only exists long enough to be broken down by another set of bacteria from the one that produced it from ammonia that breaks it down further into nitrates. The two bacteria pretty much exist under the same conditions and the appearance of nitrates is usually an indication that an aquarium has successfully cycled. To me. If something's going to go "wrong", it's going to be apparent on either the ammonium end of the cycle or the nitrate end and testing for nitrites just gives you something else to be jittery about. But, that's just me.
 

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0.5 ppm Nitrite and above is too high as in concerningly high according to the API testing instructions. 50 ppm Nitrate and above is too high for Nitrate although not as concerning. You're in the zone although I think you should have more Nitrate IMO. If your Nitrite climbs too high you can do water changes and or cycle in a bucket.

EDITED: Edited to reference API and to change "dangerously" to "concerningly".
 

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You are right to be concerned. Continuous level of 0.25 nitrites will stress the fish over time.

Nitrite persistence may have nothing to do with nitrification as there are plenty of bacterial processes that generate nitrite (my book, p. 65). The main one is nitrate respiration, the conversion of nitrates to nitrite by ordinary bacteria under moderately anaerobic conditions. (Bacteria use nitrates instead of oxygen for their respiration and the end result is nitrite.) My guess is that for some reason your tank is generating nitrites faster than they can be removed by nitrification, plant uptake, water conditioners, etc.

What to do? You need to increase oxygen levels, especially in the substrate. I would remove some of the gravel layer. In the photo, it looks a little deeper than it should be for such small plants and it may be smothering the soil layer. Use a spoon to surgically remove gravel from unplanted areas. Gently poke the substrate a couple times a day with a long, sharp object to introduce oxygenated water into soil layer. Make sure that there are no areas in the tank where the soil layer is covered by a rock or driftwood.

If these measures don't solve problem in a few days, you can always add a small filter or aerator.

P.S. Are those pretty lawn plant in the foreground micro sword narrow leaf? (They're very nice.) Hope they are growing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you everyone for the response!
I will start with poking my substrate, Most of the areas all have vegetation so I will try to remove as much gravel as possible. I do have drift wood covering areas of the tank that had soil underneath but this problem never occurred until I pulled parts of the plant out and introduced new plants so I’m very confused as to what could've caused this issue.

The plants are just dwaf hair grass, I tried planting micro swords but they never grew in size. I took them out and that’s what started the problem :cry:
 

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Thank you everyone for the response!
I will start with poking my substrate, Most of the areas all have vegetation so I will try to remove as much gravel as possible. I do have drift wood covering areas of the tank that had soil underneath but this problem never occurred until I pulled parts of the plant out and introduced new plants so I’m very confused as to what could've caused this issue.

The plants are just dwarf hair grass, I tried planting micro swords but they never grew in size. I took them out and that’s what started the problem :cry:
I never got my hair grass to grow that densely. Very pretty. :)

I would not assume that replanting caused a problem. Replanting generally aerates the soil layer, and if the new plants (hairgrass?) are growing, even better.

IMHO, beginners should not use driftwood. I've heard multiple excuses from people defending their driftwood, documenting how long they've soaked it, etc. Tidily winks. It takes time for driftwood to start rotting and causing problems. It smothers the soil layer, making it severely anaerobic underneath. This causes the wood to rot, generate toxins, excess nutrients, all of which are known to cause numerous problems. Lack of oxygen encourages nitrate respiration and nitrites. If you must have hardscape, then I would use small rocks or ceramic (i.e, inert) driftwood resting directly on the glass. A planted tank should be about plants, not furniture.

Your driftwood would be my number one suspect. I recommend that you remove it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you very much Diana for your suggestion! I brought the driftwood while watching tank setup videos but now I think back they are mainly hightech tanks and now that I think about it, it may have been a bad idea...

poking the substrate with a stick definitely helped since today the results are looking like there are less nitrite, but I ran into another problem. As I was poking I realised there was a big H2S bubble in one area of the tank where the staurogyne repens and Anubias nana was, the plant never grew well and never rooted properly and bottom melts every time I put it in the substrate, now seeing the bubbles released I realised it must’ve been the build up:eek:. I gave the area a thorough poke and now it seems like all the bubbles was released (around 20-30mL). I would like to swap the driftwood and the repens to some fast growing plants like pogostemon erectus, amazonia sword and java fern. I wanted big leaves to give the shrimp area to graze on like how they did with the driftwood but I would like to get suggestions on plant selection.

I would also like to enquire about the release of H2S gas, from Ms Walstad’s book it stated that H2S is not toxic given the bacteria and iron present, but as I searched through the forum I found an old forum discussing the use of pots and deep dish where They said H2S can be potentially bad as there are differing results from hobbyists. As of now the fish and shrimps isn’t affected by the gas release but knowing this can be an ongoing issue, I would like to fill the space up with plants to avoid any issues later on. The soil seemed to have a black line through it where the build up was and now I’m worried if anything would grow in that area because of the build up.

The last thing would like to ask is how urgent is the swap needed, as of now Sydney is under strict lockdown and many of the local shops don’t stock as much plants due to lockdown and we cannot leave the house and exit our local government area without exceptional reasons. Because of this it is very hard to get plants to replace the mess I made and there is no online shops that I know of that can send me quality plants without ridiculous amount of shipping fees.I feel really bad for my shrimps and Corydoras cause I’m afraid something might happen to them if I don’t act now, but at the same time I cannot act because this lockdown is stopping everyone from getting much needed supplies 😭.

ps: I attached a photo of the black line I am talking about, I see it in other areas with slow growing plants as well but this area is definitely the worst
73759
A5A5CFCF-9FBA-4515-A9D4-298231E9EBFB.jpeg
 

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I believe you will have solved the nitrite/H2S problem by removing the driftwood.

Poking out the H2S gas bubbles and oxygenating the substrate should solve 90% of the problem. H2S is a gas that will quickly diffuse from the tank in a day or two.

The black line is iron sulfide from the reaction of soluble iron with H2S. (Fe + 2 H2S = FeS2 or iron pyrite) Iron is another line of defense against H2S. The FeS2 is non-toxic, so no worries about a black line.

The H2S explains why you couldn't get plants to grow in that one area of the tank and why the bottom of stem plants rotted. Keep poking that area every once in awhile and then try planting it with your repens or other plants from your tank. You don't need to buy new ones until/or if it's convenient. And your shrimp can do fine without big surfaces.

I'm glad to hear that your fish and shrimp are doing okay despite this temporary setback. And kudos to you for detecting and addressing the problem in a timely manner.

Keep us posted on nitrite levels, plant growth, etc.
 
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